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The Art of Data Structures and Navigating Price Wars: Nigeria Com Interview with Olatokunbo Temenu

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With less than a week to go until Nigeria Com kicks off in Lagos, we've been tracking the key developments that have come to define the region's telecoms and technology sectors in recent months.

Ahead of the event we caught up with consultant, telecoms expert and Nigeria Com speaker, Olatokunbo Temenu, to discuss data pricing, the recent price war across Nigerian telecoms, and maximising return on investment (ROI) in such an ecosystem.

Connecting Africa: We look forward to welcoming you to Nigeria Com, where you will be taking part in a panel discussion on data pricing strategies. What was your initial reaction to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)'s deregulation of data prices?

Olatokunbo Temenu: As an industry thought leader, I welcomed the NCC deregulation of data prices, which stimulated competitive price margins amongst data operators and telecoms operators, which has resulted in numerous consumer benefits.

Connecting Africa: Were you surprised by the furious price war that ensued amongst telecoms operators?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Not at all. Iit was clear that when the competition became stiffer, the non-desired furious price war amongst telcos would play out and eventually became the order of the day. It's now our present reality and we need to continue to operate and find workarounds in response to it.

Connecting Africa: How are operators able to maximise their capex ROI in such an ecosystem?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Operators could only stay afloat in some high data demanding times of the year (in Nigeria we have our peak and low seasons), and make marginal profits to maximise capex ROI spend by increasing our customer base, rollout promotions and upselling devices through manufacturer collaborations. They also reduce opex ROI through service outsourcing.


"Yield management as a strategy can only impact the telco profitability margin when it is well-developed, well-managed and all stakeholders deliver their part of the deal"


Connecting Africa: How can strategies such as yield management increase profitability in this regard?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Yield management as a strategy can only impact the telco profitability margin when it is well-developed, well-managed and all stakeholders deliver their part of the deal. When the data service provided is [of high] quality, and the customer experience is superb, then the telcos can profit from yield management pricing strategies deployed to customers.


"Sponsored data from public and private sectors of the economy can impact and uplift ROI in the Nigerian telecoms sector, when encouraged and given support by regulators, as well as cost effective solutions from telecoms operators with disruptive pricing strategies"


Connecting Africa: How can sponsored data provide customer value as well as also uplift ROI within the Nigerian telecoms sector?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Sponsored data from public and private sectors of the economy can impact and uplift ROI in the Nigerian telecoms sector, when encouraged and given support by regulators, as well as cost-effective solutions from telecoms operators with disruptive pricing strategies. This involves lowered tariffs and unlimited data plans to pick from by customers, when [they are] on sponsored data in limited or metered data use. If it's too expensive it won't be sponsored and made available in the market for customers to use and invariably telcos would not benefit, and regulators cannot latch on the possibilities of internet of things (IoT) that can be derived from that. The benefits are enormous, and are yet to be fully explored.


"Out of 4 GSM operators and 1 not fully functional CDMA operator in Nigeria, only one can fully boost good quality and strong coverage of 4G or LTE services. All others are just patching up services"


Connecting Africa: What do you still consider to be the most pervasive challenge to national connectivity coverage and where do you think the solutions to this challenge could lie?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Still the most pervasive challenge to national connectivity coverage in Nigeria is funding and the availability to the latest technology. Out of four GSM operators and one not fully-functional CDMA operator in Nigeria, only one can fully boost good quality and strong coverage of 4G LTE services. All others are just patching up services. We need fiber optic network solutions and satellite services to cover the nation fully and deploy equipment compatible with these solutions. I hope the government and regulator can allow full use of the Nigeria Satellite services for collaborative efforts. Also the one operator in Nigeria with fiber optic network solutions needs to start deployment and [enable] full commercial use by other operators and end users.

Connecting Africa: What are you most looking forward to at this year's Nigeria Com?

Olatokunbo Temenu: First off, I'm looking forward to the new insights that are sure to emerge from discussion and collaborations. I am also looking forward to the international networking opportunities and playing a role in moving the Nigerian telecoms sector forward through these meetings and conversations.

Connecting Africa: What kinds of individuals are you looking to meet at this year’s event?

Olatokunbo Temenu: I am keen to meet with industry leaders, regulators and government representatives, and of course telcos, manufacturers, sponsors and service providers.

Connecting Africa: Have you attended Nigeria Com in the past and would you (and why would you) recommend it to others in the sector?

Olatokunbo Temenu: This is actually the first time I will be attending, but with the richness of the event and caliber of delegates and speakers attending, I would definitely recommend it to others.


"There will also be more collaborations with disruptive technologies and yield management pricing of products and services, new platforms such as 4G, LTE, IoT, AI, VAS and pay-TV"


Connecting Africa: What can we expect from Airtel Nigeria in the near future -- what new developments are on the horizon?

Olatokunbo Temenu: Generally, for telcos in Nigeria, I foresee them all, in the near future, providing a lot more data services and less of voice. There will also be more collaborations with disruptive technologies and yield management pricing of products and services, new platforms such as 4G, LTE, IoT, AI, VAS, pay-TV etc.

Would you like to hear more from Olatokunbo and more of the biggest decision-makers in Nigerian telecoms and technology? Then join us in Lagos between the 20-21 September for Nigeria Com 2017 – Strengthening the networks and ICT of digital Nigeria.

If you're a CIO of a licensed network operator or enterprise/SME within Nigeria and West Africa, you can obtain your free pass to Nigeria Com here.

Find out more about Nigeria Com here and purchase your delegate pass for the full two-day event here.

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